SEIU Local 284 member Mark Glende received the RISE (Recognizing Inspiring School Employees) Award on May 9, 2018 in Washington D.C. along with four other award winners from across the United States. Mark is the Head Custodian at Sioux Trail Elementary in the Burnsville School District.
Mark is a person who simply doing his job well is not enough. Mark worked with student groups to create the Schools for Energy Efficiency (S.E.E) SQUAD to create more energy efficiency in the school. For this project, he worked with students on things like turning off classroom lights when unoccupied and making sure blinds were down at the end of the day to keep the heat from escaping overnight. They found out that by turning off gym lights for just two hours a day the school could save an additional $500 per month.
Because of the work of Mark and others, Sioux Trail Elementary School became one of the first Minnesota schools to become an ENERGY STAR Leader Top Performer and in 2007 ranked as the second most energy efficient school in the Midwest. He accomplished this in a school that is over 60 years old.
Another project Mark helped grow was the Enhanced Recycling and Organics Program. The focus was on recycling in the classrooms and recycling and organic separation in the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch. He taught a group of students the proper way to sort their lunch trays, and those students went on to teach their fellow students. That group of students gave up their recess time once a week to go classroom-to-classroom and talk trash, compost or recycle, and worked with Mark as Trash Talkers. Out of this Mark started the SMART (Sort More And Reduce Trash) program. Over the next couple years, the school was able to reduce trash output from a four-yard dumpster picked up daily to a one-yard dumpster picked up once a week.
Mark also started the “One More Sip” challenge. In 2016, Mark got tired of seeing all the milk being thrown away that students didn’t drink at breakfast and lunch, so he came up with the One More Sip challenge. It took six weeks to establish a baseline of milk being poured down the drain, and then he started asking students to take one more sip before they went out to recess. From October to May the school increased milk consumption from 60% to over 90%.
Mark had the student council help him and he dubbed them his Moo Crew. They made posters to hang not only in the cafeteria but all over school. Now students celebrate two-sip Tuesday and Finish Your Milk Friday. They also came up with weekly toasts that always ended with “and here’s to the cows!”
Mark is a classic example of school employees across Minnesota who go above and beyond every single day to make our schools safer and more enriching for our students. Our SEIU Local 284 family is incredibly proud of Mark.